Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What's a Battlemech? (Battletech)

A Battlemech is in most cases a bipedal (there are some quads) exoskeleton that is piloted into battle by a Mechwarrior.  They stand between 10 and 12 meters tall (exceptions exist on both ends) and weigh between 20 and 100 tons.  Armed with extensive batteries of missiles, energy or ballistic weapons (in some cases all three), the Battlemech is often considered the apex of human ingenuity in the field of warfare.  It is an incredibly complex amalgamation of technological innovation and has changed the way humankind has waged war since their introduction 2439.  Let’s take a closer look at what went into creating the technological underpinnings of a battlemech.

The body
The body that a battlemech is constructed from is an endo-skeleton that is roughly analogous to a human body (roughly is a key word).  It is comprised of 8 sections, the head, the right and left arms, the right and left legs, and the torso which is split into a right, center and left torso locations.  These are the hard sections that equipment is attached to, and form the final layer of protection from damage.  This internal structure can take a lot of punishment before the section is compromised.  

The muscles
The musculature that allows a battlemech to move with a semblance of humanity are the artificial myomer bundles developed in 2350 by Dr. Atlas as part of Operation Musclebound.  Artificial muscles are stimulated by electrical discharge, causing them to expand or contract (much the same way that the natural fiber they imitate do).  Using myomer cables as the foundations for actuators, incredibly close mimicry of the way the human form moves is duplicable (with some exceptions).  The electrical needs for this also are responsible for some of the waste heat that impacts the functionality of a battlemech.

The Skin
The armored skin of a battlemech is ablative, meaning that it breaks off when damaged or destroyed, but absorbs a great deal of punishment in the process.  It is a multi-layered amalgam of materials, with an outer layer composed of a titanium-steel alloy, an inner layer comprised of a diamond ceramic blend, and rests atop another honeycombed titanium alloy.  Add to this a self-sealing polymer to enable space and underwater operations, and battlemechs are extremely resilient to damage.

The Heart  
The heart of every battlemech is a portable fusion reactor that sits in its center torso.  A wonder of human engineering and innovation, the fusion reactor provides all of the power required to bring the myomers and weapon systems to life.  It also produces the waste heat that can affect battlemechs, especially if the reactor’s shielding has been compromised.

The Nerves
Every battlemech is a complex network of sensors and cables that connect every single system to the battlemech’s cockpit.  They connect to a complicated piece of equipment called a neurohelmet that allows a mechwarrior to operate the battlemech.  Between the Neurohelmet and the massive gyroscope that sits in the battlemech’s center torso, a Mechwarrior can keep a battlemech functional, upright, and moving forward through the day to day operations.  

Other essential components

Heat Sinks
In order to remove the excess heat that builds up inside a battlemech, special coolant systems run throughout the battlemech.  Waste heat is delivered to radiators that cool the internal systems of the battlemech and allow it to operate in the wide environments expected by combat.  The excess heat generated by combat operations can overtax these systems to the point it reduces efficiency in the myomers that move a mech, impairs sensors, causes an internal ammunition explosion or shuts the battlemech down entirely.  

A network of sensor systems and communications equipment allow a mechwarrior to interact with the environment outside of his battlemech.  Visual sensors across multiple spectra can reveal hidden units, local air conditions, or give visual sightings of enemy units.  Auditory sensors can pick up ambient noises and speech, while more complex sensors can detect radiation, chemicals and a host of other information.  The communications equipment allows a battlemech to communicate with other units (depending on the battlemech and the planet) in a variety of locations onworld.  

Life Support
The cockpit of a battlemech can be an especially dangerous place.  Between the excess heat generated internally, and external conditions, a battlemech cockpit can be an oven or a crematorium if the life support systems fail.  These keep the cockpit clear of smoke, irritants and external chemicals in addition to keeping it functionally cool enough to operate a battlemech.  

Optional Considerations

Jump Jets
Someone, at some point, must have pondered the thought “If i can have a giant robot, why can’t it fly?”  Jump Jets are a nominal concession to this idea.  Vectored thrust engines can propel a battlemech in a normal planetary atmosphere a short distance.  This gives units equipped with the system an edge in maneuverability since they can jump over intervening obstacles (or into other battlemechs)

As stated above, the original purpose of the battlemech was a tool of war.  With that aim in mind, the Battlemech is a weaponized platform capable of supporting a myriad of weapon options and configurations.  The only real limits are the weight restrictions on the chassis, and the heat dissipation ability of the heat sink system.

Model and type
There are hundreds of different models of battlemechs in the universe, and each has some key characteristics.  They share a weight class and internal structure.  Most utilize the same components (different factories in different states may use locally sourced parts)  They have the same expected mission profile and combat capabilities unless a technician has taken out and replaced parts with different versions.  This can be a simple as replacing a foreign made medium laser for a locally produced version to as complex as rebuilding the Center Torso compartment to house a new engine.  

We hope this gives you a better understanding of what specifically a battlemech is and is made of.  

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